CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Space shuttle Endeavour embarked on its new life as a museum piece Wednesday, leaving behind its NASA home and heading west on the last ferry flight of its kind.
Bolted to the top of a jumbo jet, NASA’s youngest shuttle departed Kennedy Space Center at sunrise on the first leg of its flight to California.
Hundreds of people gathered at the runway to bid Endeavour farewell following two days of rain delays. Crowds also lined the nearby beaches as the shuttle swooped in and out of low clouds in one final show.
Onlookers waved, saluted, blew kisses, and cheered as Endeavour made one last swoop over its old landing strip.
‘‘You know what? I am feeling a tremendous amount of pride,’’ said astronaut Kay Hire, who flew aboard Endeavour two years ago.
Several hours later, onlookers cheered excitedly as Endeavour flew over its landing place in Houston, not far from the home of NASA’s Mission Control and all the astronauts. The jet carrying Endeavor landed a short time later at Ellington Field.
Endeavor will spend the night in Houston before continuing its journey to Los Angeles International Airport, where it’s scheduled to land Friday.
In mid-October, Endeavor will be transported down city streets to the California Science Center.